Daniel Farke's Leeds United pre-Southampton message has QPR consequences: Graham Smyth's Verdict

DIFFERENT NARRATIVE: As Adam Armstrong, above, fires Southampton in front after just two minutes of Saturday's Championship clash at St Mary's with Liam Cooper looking on in the background. Photo by George Tewkesbury/PA Wire.
DIFFERENT NARRATIVE: As Adam Armstrong, above, fires Southampton in front after just two minutes of Saturday's Championship clash at St Mary's with Liam Cooper looking on in the background. Photo by George Tewkesbury/PA Wire.

The team who played so well in their thumping win over Watford a week prior all kept their places, meaning Premier League loanees, big characters and exciting young talent like Joe Rodon, Luke Ayling and Archie Gray had to settle for the bench.

Had Leeds bounced into St Mary's and carried on where they left off against the Hornets then Farke would have been lauded for his decision making but conceding within two minutes set the tone for a different narrative.

What transpired on the south coast was so far from what most expected in the days leading up to it and for good reason.

Saints, dramatically out of sorts, were losing games and Leeds were unbeaten in six, shutting teams out and terrifying their defences. Russell Martin was under pressure against an opposite number in a groove. It was an atmosphere of pessimism welcoming optimism.

There is always a sense among Leeds supporters that if things are going well and further positivity looks inevitable then you would be foolish not to bet the house on the exact opposite occuring.

Teams ending losing streaks, players ending goal droughts - whatever the worst possible outcome may be, that is what Leeds fans tell themselves is an inescapable, pre-written certainty. Nailed on.

Even still, no one at either end of the country can put their hand on their heart and say they saw this coming.

On a day when a Leeds opener would have turned many in the home sections against their manager, a Leeds mistake turned the scoreline against themselves.

Adam Amstrong was played in behind Liam Cooper, who had stepped forward a yard and allowed the striker to roam into space on his blindside. Illan Meslier was dinked from an angle and Saints had the momentum.

Their tails up, the Saints went marching after the Leeds back line each time the ball was played out and with Glen Kamara and Ethan Ampadu being screened or cut off from their centre-backs it was a struggle for the visitors in possession. A week on from facing no discernible pressure on the ball against Watford, it seemed to come as somewhat of a culture shock.

Eventually Leeds found a way to get to grips with the home side's shape and forged a path into the final third where Georginio Rutter produced their first moment of quality and a cracker of an effort from outside the area that Gavin Bazunu palmed wide.

Getting dribblers onto the ball in the Saints half was threatening to take Leeds into open space until Martin's men made it plain they were not having it, committing a number of yellow card worthy fouls as a remedy.

As Sam Byram fired another good chance wide, Saints suddenly looked like the far wobblier side in possession and positivity was creeping back into proceedings for Leeds.

Until, of course, Southampton scored a second goal. Farke would later explain how a bit of bad luck stemming from Crysencio Summerville's post-treatment protocol-enforced late re-entry to the pitch had disadvantaged the winger as the move developed but replays suggest the winger had ample opportunity to track Will Smallbone and get to the edge of the area first.

When a team is breaking forward it is often more instructive to watch the defending team's runs than the attackers and Summerville did not cover himself in glory as he jogged and watched Smallbone sidefoot in Kamaldeen Sulemana's cut-back.

Within four minutes it was 3-0, Kamaldeen getting away from Jamie Shackleton as he did for the second goal and finding Adam Armstrong who turned Sam Byram inside out and fired home from close range.

Farke, again, stuck with the same side for the second half because his feeling was not that one or two individuals were particularly culpable but that the team in general could just have done with being sharper in critical moments.

There was a response from the starting XI, too. They took the game to a Saints side who were admittedly well within their rights to sit deeper and look for counters, and found the net through Pascal Struijk's neat turn and finish from a corner.

Struijk took the bull by the horns in the second half, stepping in to win the ball and adding needed physicality to pen Southampton in.

Others were not so effective in their roles. Joel Piroe was anonymous for too much of the game and when he reappeared, when found on the edge of the area by Rutter, his first touch went missing entirely.

Rutter tried again, bringing down a Jaidon Anthony cross and feeding his strike partner, only for Piroe's finishing ability to desert him this time.

It felt likely that a second goal would have turned the grumbles around St Mary's into full blown nervous negative energy but it never came.

Farke was pleased with the second half response, felt Leeds won every metric bar the one that actually counts and batted away specific concerns or criticism for individuals in the post-match discussion.

But having admitted that Leeds did play some part in their own downfall at decisive moments, he will have the opportunity to send another message when it comes to performances and selection for the following game.

He has now a squad that allows him a decent amount of freedom to make alterations in a number of areas for the QPR game at Elland Road where, thanks to the unbeaten streak being broken and the flow of good news and results being interrupted, no one should have to expect the worst.